CONOVER, N.C. -- When he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 26th round of the 2001 June Amateur Draft, Kenny Trapp thought he would play professional baseball for the rest of his life.
He’d been a standout pitcher for Dallas Baptist in 2000 and '01, leading the nation in both wins and saves his first year out of the box. Twice, the Patriots made it to the NAIA World Series. He’d also been drafted by the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants before eventually signing with the Red Sox.
Trapp was going to pitch his way to stardom in historic Fenway Park, and maybe even help the Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino and win the World Series. That was the way he pictured it, at least.
What Trapp found was that there was far more to baseball than just a dream. He returned to Dallas Baptist to start a men’s and women’s golf program during the 2005-06 season, and after finishing dead last in the conference, there was nowhere to go but up.
He was a go getter, and then some, when he first started. The approach didn’t work well at all with his players.
“I could be pretty aggressive at times,” Trapp admitted. “I’ve gotten better at that. When I first started, I’ll be honest with you. They didn’t respond real well to me, but you learn. Of course, I was younger and had just got done playing pro ball. Go figure. Walking down the fairway, and they’re in tears. You’re just trying to get them to finish the hole.”
As Trapp continued to grow into the role as head coach, the team’s fortunes began to rise. The Patriots finished 30th in the nation in 2010-11, and last season made it all the way to 13th. The squad would’ve made it to the NCAA Division II national championship for the first time in school history, but lost in a playoff for the West Region’s third and final transfer spot.
How would his team handle that kind of disappointment? Would they suffer a letdown, or use it as incentive? The answer is simple. The Patriots are here at the Rock Barn Golf and Spa resort, and a lot of other teams aren’t.
Rather than going for the jugular every week on the course, Trapp has chosen not to become “that” coach. He refuses to have what he calls a “win, win, win” mentality.
Instead, he tries to encourage his players on the course but also in life. It’s what he wanted as a player, and it’s what he’s trying to get across now. Playing well today is important, but so is the kind of person, the kind of parent they’re going to be in the future.
“I think most people think most Christians are weak minded, when I feel it’s actually the opposite,” Trapp said. “You’re going to give all you can every day and fight to the end, but it’s for a different reason. You’re not trying to win for yourself. It’s just trying to glorify God in all that you do.
“Is it easy? Absolutely not. Do I struggle with that sometimes? Absolutely. The world tells us you’ve got to win, win, win, win. You can get caught up in it. I get caught up in it. I think the big picture is what I try to get the kids to understand. Give me what you have today, and then enjoy the process of becoming great.”
There are coaches who are determined to treat each player the same, but that’s not Trapp’s style. If a player needs a pat on the back, he’s going to give it. If someone else needs correction, they’ll get it. If another needs a stern rebuke, he’ll do just that.
The goal, he says, remains the same.
“At the end of the day, does anybody really care if I won a golf tournament?” Trapp asked. “I mean, let’s be honest. Do they care if I pitched in the World Series and I won the Cy Young? No. I’m not going to remember those things. I’m going to remember the relationships, how I stayed committed, how I made other people better.
“That’s what I try to focus on with the kids. As long as you’re giving what you’ve got, I can’t control what St. Edwards or Lynn or Barry’s going to shoot. What we can do is control what we shoot.”